It's Time to Focus:
Raising Awareness about ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects over 5 million children and 4.1% of adults in the United States. Although living with this disorder can make simple tasks seem insurmountable. Keeping track of important documents, using time management, or simply sitting still to complete homework can be extremely difficult for people with ADHD. The good news is that this disorder, when diagnosed, can be well managed with treatment.
It is time to raise awareness about this common disorder so those affected can have the opportunity to improve. The first step anyone must take in becoming an advocate for ADHD awareness is to gain some basic knowledge of the disorder.
Scientists do not know exactly what causes ADHD but they have determined that genetics plays an important role. In addition, brain injury, alcohol or tobacco use during pregnancy, premature delivery, low birth weight and environmental factors could be other possible causes.
Regardless of the cause ADHD produces some very clear signs in the people it affects. Children with ADHD were found to have a slower maturing and thinner frontal cortex than unaffected children, while the motor cortex of ADHD children was shown to grow faster than those of non affected children.
In addition people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were found to have a lower brain volume and less grey matter that unaffected people.
ADHD has three distinct presentaions
- Often fails to pay attention to details
- Often loses things
- Is distracted easily
- Dislikes task that require a long period of time
- Often fidget
- Often talks excessively or has trouble waiting his/her turn
- Is unable to take part in leisure activities quietly
- Will exhibit symptoms from both the inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive categories
To diagnose ADHD, a medical professional will observe the behavior of the patient, often on multiple occasions, and ask about past behavior. Once diagnosed there are several treatment options available
- Helps to calm the effects of ADHD but may come with unwanted side effects
- Commonly used medications include Ritalin, Adderall, and Strattera (Many medication have age and other restrictions so always talk to you physician about the best choice)
- Psychotherapy is focused on helping the affected child/adult learn how to monitor their own behavior and work through a normal day
- Family therapy is focused on helping family members learn how to support positive and handle negative behavior from the affected person.
- As simple as it may seem implementing a daily routine and remaining organized can have a drastic improvement on ADHD symptoms
How Can You Get Involved
Getting involved in ADHD awareness is one of the easiest, and most important, things you can do.
If you know/live with someone who has ADHD it can be as easy as keeping your belongings organized, attending a therapy session, or marking non-routine events on the calendar as soon as possible.
Another good way to advocate for ADHD is to make sure people know about the numerous support options available to them at school or at work. The websites listed below are excellent resources about all the support available.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention: Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder